But as the president entered a courtyard between four blocks of flats and started addressing residents with the words “the government is behind you”‚ the dynamics which make the Cape Flats so difficult to police played out around him.
Local gang bosses don’t live in the flats‚ but they came to watch the parade and to see who was talking to the police‚ reporters or the president. Residents watched the president from stairwells and balconies.
Ramaphosa’s language delighted them. “He’s speaking Afrikaans!” said one. “Of course‚ it’s our mother tongue‚” said her husband. “That is what a king does. He comes out to his people and puts the interests of his people on his heart.”
Since the anti-gang unit had started patrolling Hanover Park a few weeks before its official launch on Friday‚ there had been almost no shooting incidents‚ residents said‚ and children were able to play outside.
“It makes kids and parents restful. When there’s a shooting‚ everyone runs‚ you must see it … You just pull the nearest child into your home no matter whose it is‚” said a resident who did not want to be named because of what he said next: “They first need to sort out the corrupt police.”